Aachen is an independent city in the North Rhine-Westphalian administrative district of Cologne. The former imperial city is a member of the Rhineland Regional Council and, according to the Aachen Act, the administrative seat of the Aachen city region with effect from October 21, 2009. In 1890 Aachen exceeded the population of 100,000 for the first time and has been the westernmost German city ever since. Aachen borders on the Netherlands and Belgium.

With the Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule (RWTH), funded since 2007 as part of the Excellence Initiative, Aachen has one of the largest and most traditional technical universities in Europe alongside other universities. The symbol of the city, the Aachen Cathedral, goes back to the Palatine Chapel of the Aachen Royal Palace founded by Charlemagne as a masterpiece of Carolingian architecture. Together with the cathedral treasure, the cathedral was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1978 as the first German and second world cultural monument. The city is the seat of the bishopric of Aachen and the venue for the annual CHIO Aachen equestrian tournament. In addition, thanks to the Aachener Printen as a local specialty, it is an important location for the German confectionery industry.

Due to the border location "in the heart of Europe" there are numerous cultural, especially architectural influences from the neighboring regions, the Belgian-Dutch area. Probably not least because of this European character - Charlemagne, who made Aachen the political, cultural and spiritual center of his empire, was called Pater Europae ("Father of Europe") during his lifetime - the International Charlemagne Prize has been awarded here every year since 1950 around the European unification process awarded to personalities at home and abroad.





The ancient name of the city has not been passed down. Since Charlemagne founded his palatinate on the remains of Roman baths, the Latin word aqua for "water" may be taken as the origin of the name. In Latin texts of the Middle Ages, the place is sometimes referred to simply as Aquae or Aquis, but increasingly as Aquisgrani. It is therefore believed that the ancient name was Aquae Granni and that the place is named after a spring dedicated to the Celtic god Grannus. Because of the late tradition of the name, another theory assumes that Aquisgrani was only a creation of the Latin chancellery language of the Franconian Empire in the 8th century. The French name for Aachen (Aix-la-Chapelle), like other French city names, contains the component Aix, which can be traced back to the Latin aqua. The location near the Romance-Germanic language border is also reflected in the names of neighboring spring locations, Seffent (septem fontes, "seven sources") in the west of the Aachen city area and Duffenter (duo fontes, "two sources") in the neighboring town of Stolberg .

The city is a state-recognized spa town and can have the addition Bad, see the section Bad Aachen.

The city is called differently in different languages. The names are partly based on the current name, for example Dutch Aken, Luxembourgish Oochen or Russian Ахен, partly on the Latin name, for example Italian Aquisgrana, Spanish Aquisgrán or Polish Akwizgran. An exception is Aix-la-Chapelle in French, where the name Aix (cf. Aix-en-Provence), derived from aquis, refers to the Aachen Palatine Chapel.

Aachen is in the border area with the Netherlands and Belgium (Euregio Maas-Rhein) on the northern edge of the Eifel and the Rhenish Slate Mountains. The Eifel and the High Fens in the south, large areas between the Lower Rhine and Niedermaas and the Ardennes are landscapes bordering Aachen. Nearby larger cities are Cologne, Düsseldorf, Duisburg, Bonn, Mönchengladbach, Krefeld, Leverkusen, Liège (Belgium), Maastricht, Heerlen and Roermond (all Netherlands). In addition, Aachen borders on an urban agglomeration to the north and east, which includes the cities of Herzogenrath, Übach-Palenberg, Alsdorf, Baesweiler and Würselen to the north, Eschweiler to the north-east and Stolberg to the east of the city.

Aachen is located in the triangle between Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands in the center of the Euregio Meuse-Rhine, in a valley basin open to the northeast, in which almost all of Aachen's streams gather in the Wurm and flow to the Rur. The urban area is thus in the catchment area of ​​the Meuse, directly on the northern edge of the slate mountains on the left bank of the Rhine (Eifel), about 30 km north of the High Fens.

The highest point in the city is 410 m above sea level. and is located in the extreme southeast of the city. The lowest point is 125 m above sea level. and is located in the north of the city on the federal border with the Netherlands. The market square in the city center is at an altitude of 175 m above sea level. The length of the city boundary is 87.7 km, of which 23.8 km is border with Belgium and 21.8 km with the Netherlands. The largest north-south extension is 21.6 km, the largest west-east extension 17.2 km.

Neighboring communities
The following cities and municipalities border the city of Aachen (starting clockwise in the northwest):
City region Aachen: Herzogenrath, Würselen, Eschweiler, Stolberg, Roetgen
Liege Province (Belgium): Raeren, Kelmis, Plombières
Limburg Province (Netherlands): Vaals, Gulpen-Wittem, Simpelveld, Heerlen, Kerkrade

City structure
The urban area is divided into the seven districts of Aachen-Mitte, Brand, Eilendorf, Haaren, Kornelimünster / Walheim, Laurensberg and Richterich. Each city district has its own district council with a district head and its own district office. The district council is elected by the population of the city district in each local election. Some of the city districts are divided into statistical districts for statistical purposes.

The districts of Aachen, which partly coincide with the city districts, form a subdivision of the city area for cadastral purposes.

Independent of these official city structures, there are numerous other place names in Aachen for city districts and districts, localities and settlements that are generally considered to be districts of Aachen.



Aachen and the surrounding area belong to the moderate climate zone and have an oceanic climate, with humid weather, mild winters and relatively stable temperatures. Due to the location north of the Eifel and the High Fens, the amount of precipitation (on average 805 mm / year) in Aachen is comparatively higher than in Bonn (669 mm / year) due to the prevailing weather conditions from the west. Another effect of the location on the northern edge of the Eifel is the occurrence of foehn in southern air currents.

Due to the city's basin location, inversion weather conditions are more common. Some parts of the city are characterized by an unfavorable air exchange in terms of urban climate. The numerous cold air corridors, which should remain as free of buildings as possible for urban planning purposes, are therefore of great importance for the urban climate. This mesoclimatic function of regulating the urban climate is also fulfilled by the landscape protection areas (LSG) in the Aachen area.

If the weather conditions are strong - wind force 3 (Beaufort scale) with southerly to westerly wind directions - sufficient air exchange in the valley basin is guaranteed. Stream valleys and green corridors along these wind directions serve as ventilation tracks, for example the Johannisbachtal. In weather conditions with little exchange (so-called neutral weather), air-hygienic problematic situations can arise. With these only medium exchange conditions, weak winds blow from northeast to southwest, so that in this respect stream valleys with such an orientation as z. B. the Beverbachtal fulfill an important ventilation function. However, stable high-pressure weather conditions are problematic, i.e. low-wind, beautiful weather conditions with high solar radiation. Due to the inadequate air currents, the polluted air can hardly be replaced by fresh air. Only the cold air flowing into the valley basin, which forms at night on larger open spaces near the city, ensures a positive exchange of air. Such cold air flows take place, for example, over the Beverbachtal and Erzbergerallee.

A special feature of the weather forecast for Aachen is the Aachen weather pillar, an approximately 11 meter high light pillar on the roof of the Haus Grenzwacht skyscraper at the main station, which uses the luminous color of its sphere and various time sequences of the glow of the sphere and shaft to indicate the weather forecast for the next day .

Aachen's subsurface is very heterogeneous. The oldest rocks occurring in the urban area are Devonian and Carboniferous sandstones, greywacke, claystones and limestone. The rock formations belong to the slate mountains on the left bank of the Rhine north of the High Fens. In the Upper Carboniferous these rock layers were narrowed, folded and pushed over during the Variscan mountain formation. After the expansion of the Variscan Mountains, the area was increasingly leveled over a period of 200 million years.

During the Cretaceous Period, the sea penetrated from the North Sea to the edge of the mountains near Aachen and deposited clays, sands and chalk sediments. While the clays, which were the basis of an important pottery industry not far from Aachen in Raeren, are mainly to be found in the valley basin of Aachen, the heights of the Aachen Forest, the Schneeberg and the Lousberg are formed by deposits of sand and chalk from the Upper Cretaceous. The most recent sediments, which are predominantly found in the north and east of Aachen, are tertiary and quaternary river and wind deposits.

Along the great thrust orbits of the Variscan orbital formation - the Aachen and Burtscheid thrust - today in the urban area, bound to Upper Devonian limestones, over 30 Aachen and Burtscheid thermal springs come to light. In addition, numerous tectonic faults, some of which are still active today, pervade the subsurface of Aachen and belong to the fault system of the Rurgraben. In the past, this fault system has repeatedly made itself felt in Aachen and the entire Cologne Bay through earthquakes, for example in the years 823, 1756 near Düren and 1992 near Roermond.


Environmental Protection

In Aachen, in addition to soil, water, noise, climate and landscape protection, the maintenance or restoration of the best possible air quality is of particular importance.


Air quality

The basin location of Aachen city center, the heavy traffic there and the progressive development of open spaces have a negative effect on air hygiene. The EU-relevant pollutant parameters showed fine dust (PM10) and in particular nitrogen oxides (NOx) on Wilhelmstrasse and Adalbertsteinweg in recent years and also currently e.g. Sometimes high to critical daily or annual mean values. These clear excesses of limit values ​​are considered to be harmful to health: there is a risk of an increase in allergies, respiratory infections and cardiovascular diseases as well as an increase in mortality. Previously injured persons are particularly affected. B. with asthma as well as children and adolescents.

In the two spa areas of Burtscheid and Monheimsallee, considerably higher requirements apply compared to the general EU limit values ​​for fine dust and nitrogen dioxide. After these had not been met for a long time and therefore even the title of spa was in danger, studies from 2016 confirmed compliance with the strict spa area guidelines.

In the case of strong weather conditions, sufficient air exchange in the heavily polluted valley basin is guaranteed. In weather conditions with little exchange (so-called neutral weather), air-hygienic problematic situations can arise. However, stable high pressure weather conditions are problematic.

As part of an air pollution control plan, the Solid Fuel Ordinance came into force on October 9, 2010 with a transition period until December 31, 2014. In 2015, further measures were defined in the areas of transport and energy. On the instructions of the Cologne District Government, an environmental zone had to be set up from February 1, 2016; it concerns the area within the Aachen outer ring.

The Cologne District Government has been preparing the second update of the Aachen Air Quality Plan since the beginning of 2017. A central point is the examination and possible preparation of a diesel driving ban. A pending action by the German Environmental Aid (DUH) is aimed at this at the VG Aachen. With a similar petition, the DUH was already successful at the VG Düsseldorf and the VG Stuttgart. The Federal Administrative Court has largely rejected the leap appeals filed against it. However, if a diesel driving ban is issued as a measure to keep the air clean, proportionality is to be maintained. For this reason, Euro 5 vehicles, for example, should not be banned from traffic before September 1, 2019. In addition, there must be exceptions, for example for craftsmen or certain groups of residents.

From November 2019 Tempo 30 will be introduced across the board within the Alleenring.

Zoning plan
Due to the high degree of sealing, the environmental agency also demands the maintenance or expansion of all inner-city, larger, open green areas in order not to endanger an effective fresh air supply.

In the course of the planned reorganization of the land use plan, the city administration is considering converting several cold air generation areas into building land. In contrast, three citizens' initiatives were formed in the summer of 2014 with regard to the Beverau, Schönthal and Grauenhoferweg test areas.

Protected areas
According to the currently valid landscape plan from 1988, 451 hectares of the urban area are protected in 12 nature reserves and a further 8131 hectares in the Aachen landscape protection area. A new landscape plan is currently (2018) in preparation, based on the draft, 1857 ha in 32 NSGs and 8869 ha in 19 LSGs would be protected.